Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Year in Business at VMware

This is a guest post from Jordan Maxwell (BSc Management with International Business (Year in Business) student at Royal Holloway) who is currently doing a placement as a Sales and Business Development intern at VMWare.
As I am writing this blog, I am currently sat down in a large communal office, cup of coffee at the ready, with the sounds of chaos everywhere. Whether it be the constant ringing of mobile phones, people rushing to and from meeting rooms or the sounds of over a hundred people tapping away at their laptops to get through their Monday morning rush and kick start the week. It is safe to say the office cliché could not be more apparent...but I enjoy every moment of it.

I currently work at the global software company VMware (you may not have heard of them but feel free to look them up as they are a massive company...not that I am biased) who are based in Staines, Surrey - which luckily for me meant I could continue living at Royal Holloway for my third year while enjoying just a ten minute commute to work every day. The company is heavily focused around IT, having recently merged with Dell a few months ago (you would have hopefully heard of them). 

My current job title is Public Sector Sales and Business Development Intern, and as exciting as that job title already sounds, the role is a lot more interesting and varied. When I first arrived at VMware, my knowledge of the company and their services was limited. You hear the terms 'virtualisation', 'software' and 'data security' being thrown around and immediately switch off. I thought working in an IT company; particularly a software company would be overwhelming and out of my comfort zone.  But now, nine months later, although my knowledge of the company and its services has grown steadily, I've come to realise you don't actually need to be an IT expert to work in an IT company - like any business, the core functions are still the same. You need to find customers, sell to them, retain them and then fine more –while using all the different departments at your disposal to work together to achieve your specific goals. In a nutshell, success relies heavily on synergy and communication between the various teams within the company.

So me not being an IT expert working in an IT company, you may ask what I actually do? I won't bore you on the day to day stuff like reporting and emails etc. that should be a given in most business roles. What I want to share are the projects that have either been learning curves or success stories, which I feel have best prepared me for working in business environments for years to come.

A project that stands out for me the most would be the MillionMakers Challenge, which involved working with all the Interns (25 of us) to raise over £10,000 for the Princes Trust by the end of 2016. We had six months to raise this and we all were new to our roles so it was definitely a challenge at first. However, we were allowed to be creative, so we decided to set up auctions, quiz nights, stalls at Christmas markets etc. all of which helped us achieve our target in good time. While this project was not related to our actual job roles, all the interns volunteered as it was not only a way of showing our support to the company but it helped us build high-profile networking links with our colleagues. It was also a nice variation from our day-to-day jobs - which is something the company strongly encourages.

Intern Day Out - Bowling

The culture at VMware is heavily focused at building a great work-life balance so while people have their jobs 9-5 (Mon-Fri), they are given the flexibility to wind down at times e.g. table tennis on the 3rd floor, yoga classes at lunch, golf tournaments, summer parties, international food weeks, the list goes on. So while there is work to be done, VMware wants their employees to be themselves. They realise everyone, whether you're an intern or a VP, still need time to wind down when they can and actually encourage them to get involved in projects that put their mind off their current work load. To expand on this, I am currently organisaing for my team to help refurbish houses in London for a Women's refuge in May. Once I posted the event, the number of responses was overwhelming, everyone wanted to get involved, which highlighted to me how blended in the company culture is.

Another project I've enjoyed being involved with has been working with the Partner team to create vLogs for various events over April -June. My role involves filming, editing, and directing these vLogs – a task that was challenging to begin with but again allowed me to use my creative side so I was given a lot of flexibility with the task. It has been great fun to do and is completely different to all my current responsibilities which has made the placement a lot more fulfilling.
Perhaps one of the most rewarding projects I have worked towards was helping one of my account managers build up a historical database of past sales for all the Police and Fire Departments in the UK (there were quite a lot of them!). This was set on my second week at the company so it was defiantly a shock to the system to be given such a heavy task early on. But over the Summer I worked with my team to slowly build up the historical data while researching the two departments- which involved me having to attend customer meetings in London and organize several corporate events for the Fire and Police customers. What has been fulfilling about this project was knowing that last quarter my team member closed the final deal for Police and Fire for over £1m, which was a great achievement for himself and the Public Sector team. Knowing I helped contribute to this success was great to see and made the job role that much more gratifying. 

On top of everything, VMware also provides the Interns with two days a year for them to spend a working day undertaking an activity of their choice. Last summer we all spent the day bowling in London alongside lunch and drinks – all paid for by the company so we couldn’t complain! It was a great way to start off the internship and also allowed the interns to have some time to get to know one another a bit better as we were all new to our roles at the time. Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to attend a UK Kick-Off Event last November, where a few of the interns and I went to a hotel in the Cotswold for a couple of days, attending dinners, seminars and presentations hosted by key members within our teams. It was great experience and a lot of fun - the final day we all were put into teams and had to build bikes within a certain time limit which were then donated to a local charity - so they really kept us all involved and entertained. 

VMware Christmas Party 2016

I could go on and on and bore you with some other projects and events I have been involved with during my time at VMware but I think the main thing I wanted to get across is that my perception of what I thought a YIB would be is actually worlds apart to the reality. My skills in IT have grown but also in networking, presenting, event planning, social media, marketing, sales, time-management, and the list goes on. You can review a job description online but it only paints part of a picture – there is a lot more to it than just coffee runs!

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